Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Saturday, 25 September 2004 at 14h 58m 45s|
A Polite Discussion with some genuine Republicans
Today there was a group of Republicans tabling at the corner of Fillmore and
Sacramento in San Francisco. I tried very hard not to approach them, but after
an hour my will broke down. There were three people, an older black woman who
said she had a small business. She wore a red business vest and struck me as
very sincere. Another women was a dental student at the local dental school,
who plastered a non-moving smile on her face as if in rigid self-assurance.
The third member of the trio was an older white man, with a grey beard who
I approached the black woman and asked where she was from. She is from
Southern California but has been a resident of San Francisco for 25 years. I
asked her to tell me why I should vote for the Bush-Cheney team in 2004.
The first issue was national security. I mentioned that not one penny has been
spent securing our ports, chemical, and nuclear facilities. Then I mentioned
that the administration has wasted a lot of resources on the way it has managed
Iraq in the last year, hiring multinational corporations to do the business
native Iraqi's could have done and hiring Somali's and Indians for cheap labor
instead of local Iraqi's. Then I mentioned that very little of the funds for
reconstruction has been spent, and said that I did not believe the Bush
administration has any credibility on National Security.
The next issue she brought up was fiscal responsibility, which is
unbelieveable. I was calm however. My intention was to be polite and
informative. I asked about the latest figures on the deficit and the federal
debt, then I mentioned that we only sustain this debt burden thanks to China
and Japan's willingness to buy our debt bonds, and that the pressures on the
bond market are going to increase interest rates. I next mentioned that 18% of
businesses with a yearly revenue of 10 million have 50% debt burdens, which
means that they will be squeezed with the inevitable rise in interest rates.
Then I mentioned that it was fiscally irresponsible to offer 2 extensive tax
cuts in lieu of this debt burden.
She mentioned that she benefited from the Bush tax cut. I agreed that
targeted tax cuts are beneficial, but that Bush said in his 2000 presidential
campaign that "by far the vast majority of my tax cut goes to the middle
class." Now in my mind the vast majority means more than 50%, which is a far
cry from that fact that only 16% of the total tax cuts went to those with
incomes less than $200,000. 66% of all owners of small businesses have
incomes less than $200,000, only the top 10% has incomes greater than
$200,000. I then said "If you are going to make a statement in a campaign, you
need to follow through when you are in office, and that is not what happened."
A young teacher approached and we got into the Leave No Child Behind
Act. I called to attention the item in the law which makes it law that all
high schools must give names of students to military recruiters unless the
parents sign a form. It was agreed that the law was in need of help. I
mentioned that the administration has not spent all of the money that was
authorized, up to an aggregate of 32 billion over the last 3 years.
At this point, the young teacher mentioned that she just wanted to get a few
stickers to put in her classroom so she could have both sides represented. The
dental student began to face me with her changeless smile. I mentioned that
she smiled a lot, and she just said that was because she was a dental student
and had to practice showing her teeth. So I asked her if she also listened
while she was smiling. She said sort of, but then said that she had a
different opinion. I said that the issue wasn't a matter of opinion. I
mentioned plenty of facts and I would be willing to listen to her refute
So she says that she didn't think government should get involved with social
Wait, I replied, are you saying that the education of our children is a social
service, and that education is local controlled and is not the same thing as
the government. Education in the United States grow at the local level and
has always been supported by local taxes. The problem is that not every
district has a strong local tax base, and so not every school district is
equally funded. Most schools don't use Title One funds, but those districts
that do are the very poor school districts who don't have a strong local tax
The dental student mentioned that it should be handled at the states. But the
states don't have the money, I said. (The black lady almost cut me off to say
the same thing, but let me speak instead. I think she was the only one who
really listened to me -- but again I reiterate that this was a very civil,
peaceful discussion.) Only the federal government has the resources to deal
with this problem. That the Bush administration has decided to underfund the
Leave No Child Behind Act is an indication of its priorities. You can upgrade
the standards and not help fix the problem. If you have a rusty car, you can't
pass the inspections unless you fork up the money to repair the engine.
The older man with a beard than said that they were of a different opinion. I
again stated that I respect their right to have an opinion, but still, I just
wanted to hear a reason to vote for the Bush-Cheney ticket and so far I have
not been convinced. As regards having an opinion, I have stated a lot of facts
and would be more than willing to hear you refute these facts.
But at a certain point you have to let it go and move on. The trio of genuine
conscience Republicans were uncomfortable with having a discussion. They
seemed fixed to a set philosophical prescription, so I made my graces to
leave. I said I didn't want to give them any trouble, and said that I was glad
they were out hear expressing themselves. I thanked them for being kind enough
to talk with me and shook their hands. It was truly a beautiful experience,
because all of us had a sophisticated level of respect.
This kind of civil discussion is what democracy is supposed to be about. All
too often our society gets the false impression that having a different opinion
is more important than having an open discussion where people can agree to
disagree. The whole point of democracy is to be heard, not to insist that you
are right, but to make sure that all points are available to be expressed.
When you listen to only one side of an argument you become blinded by the
inherent imperfections of one set of observations. An opinion only becomes
refined when it is viewed or challenged by a different perspective. Which is
why I like to engage in these polite conversations, because I want to hear
other points of view. How else is one to know how other people think if they
do not allow themselves to listen to what others think?
|Saturday, 25 September 2004 at 0h 25m 11s|
The reign of paranoia
Why is the Bush administration and Dick Cheney in particular so negative and
terrorism-on-the-brain minded? Why accuse and talk negatively, and resort to
talking about rosy untruths in order to speak positive? At least Herbert
Hoover merely had to worry about the woosy economy, not the failed foreign
policy and national policy initiatives made by an administration that has spent
4 years blaming everyone but themselves.
You see, George W. Bush doesn't make mistakes. He miscalculates, and then
continues making the same mistakes.
But then ... according to Bush (source)
"The government of prime minister Allawi has earned the support of every nation
that believes in self-determination and desires peace," he said. "The UN and
its member nations must ... do more to help build an Iraq that is secure,
democratic, federal and free."
Then mister Bush starts criticizing Kerry because he doesn't become infatuated
with ex-spy now prime minister Allawi, next in kin to the old house-nigger
Ahmed Chalabi, that old sycophant who grew fat on the government payroll for
the last 20 years as the nominal head of the "official" Iraqi exile group --
for 100,000 dollars a month.
Playing down the instability and huge loss of life of Iraqi civilians and US
soldiers, Mr Bush said: "Not long ago, outlaw regimes in Baghdad and Kabul
threatened the peace and sponsored terrorists ... Today the Iraqi and Afghan
people are on the path to democracy and freedom. These two nations will be a
model for the broader Middle East."
Warning that there would be worse days ahead, Mr Bush conceded that "we can
expect terror attacks to escalate" as elections approach in Afghanistan and
Iraq. But he vowed that his mission was "not to retreat, it is to prevail ...
We will be standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes
for freedom and liberty are fulfilled."
Coming the day after Mr Kerry, accused him of "stubborn incompetence"
and "colossal failures in judgment" on the war in Iraq, Mr Bush will have been
acutely aware of his domestic audience.
Meanwhile Cheney is busy going from undisclosed location to another telling the
nation that Kerry will result in guaranteed terrorist attacks. Yet the same
Cheney who as prior head of Halliburton still earning $100,000 per month in
deferred salary -- in order to avoid taxes -- condescendingly said in the 2000
debates with Senator Lieberman that he never earned a dollar from the
government in order to castigate the senator democrat as the sloth on the
government dole, while Cheney, the great bastion of integrity earned his
millions as an independent business person.
Now of course it would be ludicrous to assert the known facts that Halliburton
gets its contracts completely from government, via defense contracts. That
would be not only absurd, but unpatriotic, so I must refrain from saying that.
But going around and making inneuendoes denouncing the integrity of the
opposing candidate has become the norm. Maybe it's an indication that the
stakes are too high. Dear God I hope this is high enough.
|Saturday, 18 September 2004 at 17h 4m 29s|
War as a tool
Have you seen the latest piece of sarcastic wisdom on the back of a car
bumper? While driving down Divisadero Avenue, I saw the most memorial epitath
of bumper sticker-ism since I saw "There's a terrorist behind every Bush" on
the back of an old faded-purple volkswagon bug. This bumper sticker was on the
back of an expensive new black Lexus.
Except for ending Slavery, Fascism, and Communism, war has never solved
Frankly I was struck immediately with the audacity of this ignorance. While
presuming to speak on a higher moral ground, this syllogism has distorted the
past with a skewed observation of the present.
Because of the ambiguity, and the fact that war has no adjacent adjective, we
have to assume that the statement discusses both the war on iraq and the war on
terror. In either case, the logical assumption of the statement is not only
inappropriate, but completely ignorant of any contemporary historical context.
As the old military adage goes, we are fighting the wrong war with the tactics
of the last war.
Slavery was a social condition that evolved from the decision of aristocratic
landowners to import black laborers to perform agricultural labor in the new
world. After 230 or so years, the American social-economy had evolved to an
impasse. The civil war was a result, not a solution. The incorporation of the
ex-slaves, the issues of black civil rights lasted another 100 or so years.
The process did not have to begin with a war, and could have been legislated,
as was the case in England and Brazil ( although to be fair, Brazilian
emancipation occurred in a different background, with more violence, including
the creation of an independent nation of ex-slaves in Bahia.)
Nevertheless, to say or imply that the civil "war" solved slavery is
ridiculous. The solution, if that is what we are to call black civil rights,
took another 100 years, after the carpetbaggers, the Jim Crow laws,
sharecropping, the Ku Klux Klan riders, the lynchings, the separate but equal
laws, and the poll taxes.
The word Fascism used by the bumper sticker must be construed to mean Hitler
and Japan and World War Two. Certainly we can't say World War One, because
that war would be a perfect example of war's potential for folly and bumbling
stupidity. But the sticker wisdom infers that any war is justified on account
that war is often the only solution. World War Two consisted of two world
governments on a rampage of nationalistic military conquests aimed at world
domination. War was the only choice, not a solution. What the hell else were
we too do.
World War Two doesn't deserve to be the bastion of justification for stupidity
that it has become.
Communism was never Russian ideology taking over the world. War did not defeat
communism anyway. After the end of the old colonialism before World War Two,
the developing world was in a moment of transition into a shift of global
power. The social disruptions that became civil wars in the rest to world were
merely pawns in the new global power players. The places where "communism"
took root longer than 50 years (China and Russia) were also places with an
ancient tradition of bureaucratic centralization of authority. The moniker of
the word "communism" ignores the historical tradition of political
bureaucracy. The very notion that war ended communism disguises the foreign
policy decisions that are involved, namely what government to support and where
the support of government ultimately resides.
Assassinating an elected socialist leader, replacing the government with an
unelected military government using military units trained in the United
States, is not a war against communism. It is a military takeover.
Supporting corrupt governments, providing ammunition and military weapons to
the dictatorship in the interest of centralized government is not a war against
communism. It is a military dictatorship.
And the presumption that we "won" the cold war is only an illusion. Now that
we cover the entire globe with military bases, more than 140 in all, we have
made investments that have negligible economic value, and have actually
diminished our security. How many other nations in the world have anywhere
near that many bases across the globe?
Centralized despotism evolves new descriptions as time passes. Caesars, Kings,
Lords, despots, dictators, fascists, and tyrants do not need modern fancy
terminology to describe the same results. Communism by another name is not
something that got defeated by this mindful policy called war. Russia and
China simply evolved into new relationships with the global world, and so to
the United States. Not because of this policy called war that was a solution
provided by the United States.
War is more unavoidable, than it is necessary, and it is really the only choice
rather than a foreign policy tool. A society that uses war as a tool has lost
sight of what real foreign policy choices have been made, and what choices
there actually are that could be more effective.
|Saturday, 11 September 2004 at 12h 58m 46s|
The forgery accusers have Republican ties
The identities of the critics are important, especially in light of the Ohio
expert Philip D. Bouffard who changed his mind when he looked at 300 samples of
type from an IBM Selectric Composer, and also noted that "as early asApril
1969 -- three years before the dates of the CBS memos -- the Air Force had
completed service testing for the Composer, possibly in preparation for
purchasing the typewriters." (SOURCE: Boston Globe.)
According to Salon.com writer
William Flynn, a forensic expert, has been cited in several news accounts
claiming the Killian memos were almost certainly faked. A few people have sent
us this link showing that Flynn is also famous for alleging that the KGB forged
John "Ivan the Terrible" Demjanjuk's death-camp ID in order to "frame" him.
As for one of the other "debunkers" cited in the AP account among other
stories, Sandra Ramsey Lines, it turns out that she has strong GOP ties and is
a member of the WISH List, a group that raises money for Republican women
running for the House and Senate.
And Eric Boehlert writes in Salon that a PR firm pushing the CBS memo forgery
story was also a force behind the anti-Kerry Swift Boat campaign.
|Saturday, 11 September 2004 at 13h 14m 35s|
More on the Killian memo forgery scare
Today, in a Boston Globe article, forensic expert re-
analyzes the Killian memos and compares the type to the IBM Selectric
Composer. "Philip D. Bouffard, a forensic document examiner in Ohio who has
analyzed typewritten samples for 30 years, had expressed suspicions about the
documents in an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, one in a
wave of similar media reports. But Bouffard told the Globe yesterday that after
further study, he now believes the documents could have been prepared on an IBM
Selectric Composer typewriter available at the time."
"Bouffard, the Ohio document specialist, said that he had dismissed the Bush
documents in an interview with The New York Times because the letters and
formatting of the Bush memos did not match any of the 4,000 samples in his
database. But Bouffard yesterday said that he had not considered one of the
machines whose type is not logged in his database: the IBM Selectric Composer.
Once he compared the Bush memos to Selectric Composer samples obtained from
Interpol, the international police agency, Bouffard said his view shifted.
In the Times interview, Bouffard had also questioned whether the military would
have used the Composer, a large machine. But Bouffard yesterday provided a
document indicating that as early as April 1969 -- three years before the dates
of the CBS memos -- the Air Force had completed service testing for the
Composer, possibly in preparation for purchasing the typewriters.
As for the raised ''th" that appears in the Bush memos -- to refer, for
example, to units such as the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron -- Bouffard
said that custom characters on the Composer's metal typehead ball were
available in the 1970s, and that the military could have ordered such custom
balls from IBM.
''You can't just say that this is definitively the mark of a computer,"
The White House has released documents from that time with the same type, and
has not denied the existence of such documents.
Notice how the heated controversy has overtaken all discussion upon the
implications of said document. Namely, if Bush willfully ignored his
responsibility to pass a physical and perform regular service in Alabama. That
he used his political connections to wiggle out of his responsibities has been
muted by the uproar.
This reminds me of the illegitimate uproar about Sandy Berger stuffing
documents in his pants, that were admited as baseless and non-existent one week
later. The uproar however did re-direct focus from legitimate criticism of
the Bush administration at the time -- namely, why did Condellezza Rice
publicly utter the name of the Pakistani mole?
These tactics have been repeated throughout the Bush administration. Don't
look over there, look over here, look over here, look over here.
The white house knew of the existence of these documents, and it appears to me
they had a plan ready when and if the documents ever surfaced. Why else would
the White House not deny that the existence of such documents are possible?
At this point, that is my view of this matter. I'm open to other
interpretations. But again, my desire is the best explanation, not whether I
win or lose. I will gladly admit an error or shed my previous opinion in
devout surface to the truth. Sometimes everyone of us allow our emotions to
color what we perceive, but we also have to listen and hear what other people
think, and weigh the merits based upon the most reasonable explanation. If an
explanation can be refuted, or muted by reasonable alternatives, then all of us
must in good conscience set aside our sentiments. You have to be wary of
people who always adamantly assert absolutism.
That being said, CBS News anchor Dan Rather made some comments in the news
(SOURCE:www.davidcorn.com for 11 Sept 2004
Yesterday Dan Rather told CNN, "I want to make clear to you, I want to make
clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true, and that
more important questions than how we got the story, which is where those who
don't like the story like to put the emphasis, the more important question is
what are the answers to the questions raised in the story."
And furthermore, there is this contention by Ken Jackson,(SOURCE
I served in the US Navy from 1954 to 1974 and in the mid 60's I started seeing
the IBM Selectric in our units.. They had several different type balls and you
could change them for the job you were doing.. I would probably say that an O4
and above would have one on his desk. They did have the (th)on the balls as I
still have documents done in the late 60's and early 70's which were not forms,
but letters of commendation that were typed in superscript type on these
Nope, I trust Dan Rather a hell of a lot more than anyone connected to or
believing in this huge pile of fecal matter that just seemed to fall in the
oval office a little over 3 1/2 years ago....
Posted by: Ken Jackson on September 10, 2004 07:04 PM
David Corn himself also concludes:
So the argument that the memos are fake is, at this point, hardly a slam-dunk.
The interesting thing about the memos, as I noted in an item below, is that
they mostly confirm the existing story rather than introduce new elements. If
one was going to go through the trouble of faking documents, one probably would
want to add a dramatic turn to the tale. But, of course, we cannot deduce the
truth of these records via armchair speculation. At the moment, though, the
memos seem as real as not. And Dan Rather is right; the issue remains the
questions about Bush's service, not this particular set of records. All this
talk of forgeries only has benefited Bush by serving as a distraction.
|Friday, 10 September 2004 at 23h 44m 39s|
Animals called pets
I have often felt very enamoured by animals throughout my life. Notice I did
not say pets. Pets are those symbolic resemblances of the ego that is put on a
leash, or held and stroked with utterances of ga-ga affection. Not that I
haven't felt the same way, but there is a certain anthropocentric line which
often gets blurred.
Such as when you are seated out in the public view and you happen to have -- oh
lets say -- a dog. Now if you had no dog and happen to be sitting by yourself,
there would not be one person who would come within 5 feet of you to squat down
and bellow out "oh he's a sweetie poh" repeatedly. But there you sit, with the
great human portal that is dog, and wham. You get to make aquaintances by a
constant steady few who happen to walk by. It's enough to cause a fellah to go
get a dog.
Single males for SPCA dogs.
But then there are those who act quickly in that infinitesmal one second
between recognition and the hands immediately on a dog's face. I ask, how many
people do you meet for the first time by putting your hands all over a their
face? Why should a dog's face be any different?
What is it in the psyche that allows us to let go of our filter systems when we
see and experience that dog?
Maybe that's the difference between animals and pets?
|Friday, 10 September 2004 at 1h 19m 11s|
A war of accusations without merit
These people are something else. Kerry is attacked with accusations
that are not supported by every single military document. Kerry's accusers get
to travel freely around the media circuit for two weeks. The accusers parse
their words and all are refuted/contested by other witnesses who were either
more directly involved with the said events, or the accusers themselves
admitted they had no first-hand knowledge. 4 members offered by the accusers
contested the use of their names.
Now we have a rampage of first-hand sources offering multiple testimony about
George W. Bush. The bush records consist of 3 groups: those obtained by
reporters prior to and during the 2000 election, those submitted by the bush
administration, and those obtained by reporters since the 2000 election.
There should be no contest about Bush's irresponsibility, because there are
many first-hand witnesses and documents independent of one another. The Swift-
boat accusers are all inter-connected by the same organization and public
relations firm. The whole panoply of witnesses and documents that involve
George W. Bush have been obtained by different organizations, independent
researches and reporters, and consist of 6 witnesses of completely different
Witness One is Linda Allison, the ex-wife of the Bush family friend who
was to "watch" George Bush when he was in Alabama keeping the family out of
trouble. ( go here
for the story. )
Witness Two is Ben Barnes, the ambitious ex-Texas lieutenant governor
who got a lot of wealthy Texas scions into the champagne unit to avoid
Vietnam. Yes he's a Democrat. So what. The Kerry accusers are all
Republicans, and what they say is refuted by documents. Where are the
documents that refute Ben Barnes? Answer: they don't exist.
And Witness Three supports Ben Barnes. This witness is Colin Powell,
who wrote in his own book that so many scions of the wealthy got into safe
posts in the national guard. This is called corroborating background in a legal
court of law. That is, the events in the testimony did occur to such a degree
that the statement is believable. How many officers historically acted in the
why attested to by the Kerry accusers? And A man who is in a war by default is
taking the chance that he might be killed.
Witnesses Four and Five are Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop. Members of the
Alabama Unit who attest George Bush was never there.
There are well-known records of drunk driving and partying by George W. Bush at
the time that add further corroboration background.
But the hacks in the corporate media will tell you a lot of nonsense.
Currently CBS obtained a group of memos from Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. These
memos provide further proof of what should be incontestable, but the Bush
administration insists otherwise. Media matters goes through the litany of
accusations and refutes each one here.
The gist of the arguments are that certain parts of the of the type in the
memos were "not available." Thus it has been said by certain forensic experts
that the memos come from a computer. But a few forensic experts can say what
they want, because other forensic experts uphold the documents.
Superscripted "th" keys were available by IBM since the early 1960's. I know
this for myself because my grandmother had one my father used when he typed
letters, and I remember the "th" key. A military unit had plenty of uses for
the "th" key because of the need to type service units in almost everything.The
thing is, the key was all the way to the far right (I think, maybe it was left)
and many an officer preferred to type "th" with the two index fingers, which
are each quickly adjacent to the "T" and "H" keys. Think about that.
An officer would have to thus consciously want to use the key. Consider that
the only sentence where the raised "th" occurs is in the May 4th memo, where
Lt. Killian orders Bush to report to the "111th" F.L.S. Administrative Office.
I know this is purely speculation but, think about that.
Then there is the issue of proportional spacing, whereby the shape of the
letter determines how much space a letter is given. But IBM had proportional
spacing on it's models since 1941. Richard Nixon's resignation was typed on
one in 1974, so were a lot of government documents.
The curlicue-type apostrophe was also available by IBM in 1953.
And the kicker is that the Font was not available. But...
In fact, Times Roman font dates back at least to 1945, as this short history
explains....IBM specifically hired its designer, Stanley Morison, to adapt the
font to the Selectric typewriter. In fact, the Selectric Composer typewriter,
introduced in 1966, not only could insert superscript but also featured
proportional type and a font called Aldine Roman , a font similar to Times New Roman that
appears to match the font in the memos
Plus the the Bush administration gave documents to the press with the same "th"
and the documents don't have a perfect horizontal baseline like a computer
document would. Each line has a curved baseline from left to right. Had the
documents come from a computer, the baseline would be perfect. There wouldn't
be a difference of 3 or 4 pixels from left to right in the baseline.
Oh did I mention Witness Six retired Maj. Gen. Bobby W. Hodges, who
(according to the Washington Post ) said "these are the things that Killian
had expressed to me at the time."
The argument that the documents come from "Microsoft Word" is ridiculous.
Anyone who has used a typewriter that is that old will recognize the type is
legitamate. By the way, I used the said typewriter that my father had.
Look at the documents yourself here.
----- from Salon.com
"The CNS News.com story, echoed by other conservative outlets, helped sparked a
debate over proportional spacing, fonts, electric typewriters and superscripts
as independent typographical experts weighed in with their own doubts. Some
experts contacted by the Washington Post, New York Times and Salon suggested
that the raised, or superscripted, "th" in one of Killian's memos was a
telltale sign that the documents were created well after 1972. Yet independent
researcher Marty Heldt notes that he had received an undisputed Bush military
document in 2000 from the Vietnam era that clearly contains a
superscripted "th." He also notes that when Killian's Aug. 18, 1973, memo is
enlarged and the word "interference" is examined, it's clear the two middle e's
rest higher on the page than the other two e's; that is not something a modern-
day word processor would likely do."
The salon story is from Eric Boehlert, who in my opinion is a trustworthy
source. It's worth a full read.
You can check out the documents yourself by looking at the pdf files. PDF is
a file format called "post-script document files" -- a world respected digital
representation. It makes an exact scan.
You can go to the CBS site above to get the pdf document files. I insist. I
They are obviously not from Microsoft Word Documents. These slanders are
relying on people not seeing the documents for themselves. Once you see the
documents, the idea that someone would say they come from a computer is
Desperation is what this is.
And if you can't see that well, what can I say.
|Monday, 6 September 2004 at 17h 26m 43s|
A code word for the destruction of Social Security
Social Security is often misrepresented by ideologues who have gone gaga over
privatization. Listening to these folks, you hear that Big guma'ment is taking
7.5% of your hard-earned dollars that you could invest yourself, and possibly
make more money. Even President Bush makes the same connotation in his current
In his acceptance speech at the RNC convention, Bush said :"We must
strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their
taxes in a personal account - a nest egg you can call your own, and government
can never take away."
But nowhere does the president or the "privatization" critics mention 2
poignant facts about social security.
The first concerns how the taxes are collected. The "criticized" payroll taxes
are paid only on the first $86,500 of income. All income above this level is
not taxed. So those who make more than $86,500 are paying a smaller percentage
of their income into the social security trust fund. Right now social security
is solvent for the next 30 to 40 years (depending on which study you prefer to
cite.) Were the crisis of solvency really an issue (as opposed to a straw man
that is beaten to pursue a hidden agenda), all one has to do is raise this
level to (say) one million dollars.
Or, the level could be completely eliminated, and the percentage could be
reduced for those whose income is less than $100,000. These funds could also
purchase the Treasury debt, rather than being used as surplus government funds
to be spent by the treasury. Wouldn't it be better to invest in our own debts,
than have to attract foreign investors who use the dollars to buy up American
companies and property because they have purchased so many dollars?
You do not hear these simple solutions, because the critics would rather have
us believe the social security system is in crisis because of inherent flaws
that could be magically solved by private accounts.
So when Mr. Bush says in the next breath--
"In all these
proposals, we seek to provide not just a government program, but a path - a
path to greater opportunity, more freedom, and more control over your own
really winking at his campaign contributors and promising smoke and mirrors to
Herein lies the second fallacy. Social Security was never meant to be a system
in which government invests your money for you. Social Security is an
insurance system. When you pay payroll taxes, you are paying the insurance
premium of the Social Security safety net. To berate the system as big
guma'ment taking away money that could be invested completely misses the reason
why social security came into existence.
Social Security is more than a pension plan. Other components of the Social
Security "insurance" system are disability, Medical care for the elderly,
Veteran's benefits, Unemployment insurance, Aid to needy families with
children, Maternal and child health services, Child support enforcement,Family
and child welfare services, Food stamps, and Energy assistance for the poor and
To speak of social security solely as a "retirement" fund, as the President
and "privatization" critics do, is deceptive, and speaks volumes about the
number one special-interest group that is contributing to the President's re-
election fund : Wall Street broker's and investment firms, salivating over the
billions of dollars they might get to manage for fees, mind you not with the
small investor in mind.
How many small investor's lost that sacred "nest egg" in the last 3 years?
The idea is that we pay into this collective insurance for the simple reason
that we as citizens have collectively decided that some things are too
important to leave to the vagarities of life and the ignorance of small
investors. Viewed solely as a pension fund, not every investor is going to be
able to intelligently invest, and there is no guarantee that the stock market
always operates to the benefit of the small investor. If we assume 7.5% of
income, A person who averages $40,000 a year for 35 years will have $3000 a
year to invest, or 100 shares of 30 dollar stock. This would be a net
$105,000, not including percentage gain (interest) per year. Assuming a 6%
average gain per year, and assuming nothing untoward occurs (a huge
assumption) -- the reality of unemployment, hospitalization, medical bills,
college expenses, house notes, bankruptcy -- this little nest egg has the
potential to become a nice retirement fund of $354,363.60.
But what if the retired individual of 65 years becomes ill, or lives 20 years.
Right now the United States has just had a year in which a record number of
bankruptcies occurred, half of which were due to medical bills. With the
recent changes in bankruptcy, the "reform" and escalating costs of the medical
insurance industry, AND the relevant real-life expenses in the intervening 35
years, this nest egg may not (and probably won't) reach full potential. The
investment choices of a small investment may or may not be wise, not to mention
that small investors really can't compete in a stock market that consists of
very large investors and hedge funds with hundreds of millions of dollars to
play with. A large investor can take a temporary $500,000 loss when the market
goes through a down cycle; but small investors get wiped out. So much for
that "path to greater opportunity, more freedom, and more control over your own
It's easy for someone born with a silver spoon to talk this pap rhetoric.
The social security insurance system is AN INSURANCE SYSTEM. We as a society
have decided that we don't want to leave to chance the welfare of our elderly
citizens, the well-being of our children, the disability of our workers, and
the misfortunes of the unemployed. Allowing those who are slightly
better-off (or anyone for that matter) to be removed from pool of social
security funds, reduces the potency of the fund for everyone. What will happen
is the dilution and destruction of the social safety net, a lot of misfortune,
and a return back to the days before the 20th century.
The Social Security Insurance program is an investment in our society, so that
people are free to not worry about their future, so that people are not
vulnerable to economic changes or life's misfortunes, and can spend their
surplus funds on houses, small businesses, and education without taking away
from their retirement pensions.
|Sunday, 5 September 2004 at 16h 5m 29s|
Culling the articles, editing the news
Newspaper and media edit and cull the news all the time. If you want
to find out anything that is considered remotely "controversial"
or "political", you have to find original sources. You can't just assume that
the daily hometown paper will provide you the original, non-editted source.
More likely than not, what you will read in the paper or get on the TV news is
an edited or re-written version of the original story.
One recent example occurred today, 5 September. The original story was written
by Frank Davies from Knight-Ridder. It had this headline in
the main Knight-Ridder wire : 9-11 hijackers tied to Saudi government,
Graham says in new book. This story comes from Knight-Ridders Washington
Bureau and was originally published in the Miami Herald. It gives the full
account, and is 27 paragraphs long. You can read the original story here.
But how does this story get presented in other newspapers across the nation?
I did a google search with the phrase "9-11 hijackers tied to Saudi government,
Graham says in new book By Frank Davies Knight Ridder Newspapers." I got 19
related articles, with another 66 related (according to google.)
The San Jose Mercury News:"Senator charges Saudi agents were linked to
Al-Qaida. NEW BOOK SAYS WHITE HOUSE, FBI BLOCKED PROBE INTO RELATIONSHIP"
The story cuts off after a statement that
"Saudi officials have vociferously denied any ties to the hijackers or Al-
Qaida plots to attack the United States,"curiously cutting off cricism of
Bush, blasting the politicization of the CIA, and the cooked intelligence that
created the Iraq WMD threat.
The Boston Globe:"9/11 hijackers tied to Saudi government, Graham says
The same edited version as the San Jose
Newsweek:"A Case Not Yet Closed
Turn The Page: In a new book, Sen. Bob Graham examines the embers of 9/11."
This article by Michael Isikoff is a re-
writing of the original Knight Ridder story, with some new phrases probably
pulled out of the Graham book. The politicization of the CIA is missing. The
connection between the FBI and the Saudi government is mentioned, and then
watered down by an excerpt below.
"But Graham's conclusions about al-Bayoumi conflict with the conclusions of
the 9/11 Commission report. Philip Zelikow, the staff director of the
commission, noted that his panel had access to more material than Graham did
and ultimately got the chance to question al-Bayoumi. They concluded that he
had no connection to 9/11. "We've spent hours and hours with Bob on this," says
Zelikow, who believes Graham doesn't seem open to new evidence. "He's got all
these details. But it's like they're frozen in amber."
It is signifigant that Isikoff chooses Philip Zelikow as his source of
rebuttal. Zelikow was the executive director of the 9-11 commission with
authority to determine all interviews and oversee all evidence, but what
Isikoff calls him is "the staff director." However, not only did Zelikow have
extensive ties to the Bush administration, but he also was criticized by other
9-11 commission members for withholding documents from the commission. Isikoff
never bothers to mention this.
According to disinfopedia, After the 2000 election, Zelikow and
Rice were reunited when George W. Bush named him to his transition team for the
National Security Council....Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke
says he briefed not only Rice and Hadley, but also Zelikow about the growing al-
Qaida threat during the transition period. Zelikow sat in on the briefings, he
"Kristen Breitweiser, a 9/11 widow, insists Zelikow has a "clear conflict of
interest." And she suspects he is in touch with Bush's political adviser, Rove,
which she says would explain why the White House granted him, along with just
one other commission official, the greatest access to the intelligence briefing
Bush got a month before the 9/11 suicide hijackings."
Isikoff then follows with a spin of the main story. "Yet even Zelikow
acknowledges that Graham may be right when he says the FBI never fully
unraveled a Qaeda support network that helped the hijackers—and that still may
be out there...."
He ends the piece with "Who were the contacts? To this day,
the FBI admits it doesn't know for sure—ample evidence, in Graham's mind, that
his fears and criticisms remain as valid as ever. "
So Isikoff rewrites the Knight-Ridder article, skillfully removing the
underlying implication that distorted facts were used by George Tenet to go
into Iraq, and that the Bush administration wanted to cover up the Saudi
connection to 9-11. Instead, Isikoff makes the story seem like FBI
incompetance, which was not the theme of the Knight-Ridder article at all.
This is what Michael Isikoff does, and is the reason why you should not trust
anything he writes. He is a devious, deceitful swindler of the journalistic
profession. Read him for the sophistry and the spin, but read him with utmost
Yahoo news:"NEWSWEEK BOOK EXCERPT: 'Intelligence Matters' By: Sen. Bob
Graham.Graham Charges That Bush Administration Was Engaged in a 'Cover-Up' to
Protect Saudi Arabia. 28 Pages Blacked Out of 9/11 Report Focuses on a Saudi
Who Befriended Two of the Key Hijackers ."
Yahoo news references the original Newsweek
article. The first paragraph has two sentences that refer to Graham's "charges"
and "claims." This paragraph is then followed by three paragraphs that come
from the Isikoff source, ending on this quote from the Newsweek re-
write:"We've spent hours and hours with Bob on this," says Zelikow, who
believes Graham doesn't seem open to new evidence. "He's got all these details.
But it's like they're frozen in amber." Yet even Zelikow acknowledges that
Graham may be right when he says the FBI never fully unraveled a Qaeda support
network that helped the hijackers -- and they still may be out there.
Again, the same spin. The message is that the FBI let them get away,
and they still might be out there. Don't look over there, look over here, look
over here, I said look over here, and be afraid. Be very afraid.
St. Paul Pioneer Press:"Senator links Saudi agents to 9/11. Sen. Bob
Graham makes claim in his new book."
This article edits the original, but unlike
the San Jose Mercury News, one more sentence is added after the obligatory
Saudi denial. This sentence is "Graham ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic
presidential nomination and then decided not to seek re-election to the Senate
Paragraph number 2 is also omitted in the Pioneer Press story. The omitted
paragraph here is, The discovery of the financial backing of the two
hijackers ''would draw a direct line between the terrorists and the government
of Saudi Arabia, and trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration,''
the Florida Democrat wrote.
The exchange between Tommy Franks and Senator Graham is also omitted.
The Wichita Eagle:"9/11 hijackers had support, book claims."
--3 paragraphs, all reprinted below.
WASHINGTON - Two of
the Sept. 11 hijackers had a support network in the United States that included
agents of the Saudi government, and the Bush administration and FBI blocked a
congressional investigation into that relationship, Sen. Bob Graham wrote in a
book to be released Tuesday.
The discovery of the financial backing of the two hijackers "would draw a
direct line between the terrorists and the government of Saudi Arabia, and
trigger an attempted coverup by the Bush administration," the Florida Democrat
And in Graham's book, "Intelligence Matters," obtained by the Miami Herald on
Saturday, he makes clear that some details of that financial support from Saudi
Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that
were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders
of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Did you notice there is no mention of Iraq, Tommy Franks, or the politicization
of the CIA to pursue Iraq? Do you think a Wichita reader is getting the full
Kansas City Star:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain
by WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press."
This is an AP re-write of the original
article. The article waters down the issue of diverting resources to fighting
Iraq, and mentions the exchange between Franks and Graham. The criticism of
the Bush administration and the politicization of the CIA was omitted.
The article also considerably downgrades the saudi connection. The names and
specifics are not given, and has instead a vague reference to an "apparent
financial ties of Saudi officials with two of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
And notice the final paragraph :The Associated Press reported in August 2003
that the classified part of the report examined interactions between Saudi
businessmen and the royal family that may have intentionally or unwittingly
aided al-Qaida or the suicide hijackers.
ABC NEWS:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain
Senator Says Commander Told Him of Early Drain of Forces From Afghanistan for
If all you did was watch ABC News, you are
getting the Associated Press re-write. But this is how the news media
operates. A hard-hitting story comes out, followed by edited versions and
rewrites that remove the main penetration of the original story, embellish the
story with "he-said, she said" diatribes, and add those famous qualifying
words "alledged", "accuses", "might have", or "claims."
It is amazing to me how often a well-ocumented fact is said to be "alledged" in
an edited or re-written news story.
Raleigh News Observer:"Senator says commander told him of early drain of
forces from Afghanistan for Iraq By WILLIAM C. MANN, ASSOCIATED PRESS."
This is the AP re-write.
Tacoma News Tribune:"Senator says commander told him of early drain of
forces from Afghanistan for Iraq By WILLIAM C. MANN, Associated Press."
The same AP re-write
NewsMax.com:"Senator: Commander Told of Military Drain from NewsMax
Again, this is the same AP press article by
William C. Mann. NewsMax however attributes the source to the "NewsMax
Wires." There is no attempt to give the reader the source for the original
story, except by including the legal copyright to the Associated Press at the
end. You would never know the William C. Mann wrote the story.
Newsmax is a poor source for information. Not only does Newsmax prefer to post
only the re-writes, but it usually doesn't bother to provide sourced
information. Touting itself as a truthworthy source for conservative readers,
it thereafter insults those readers with spin.
Florida Ledger:"Graham says Franks warned that Iraq would divert forces
By WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press Writer."
The same AP re-write
Columbia Daily Tribune:"Senator’s book criticizes handling of 9/11
The original story from Davies is published
So what we have here is an original story put out by Knight Ridder, by writer
Frank Davies. Then there is an AP version by William C. Mann. Also, Michael
Isikoff provides a spin in a Newsweek article. How many citizens got the
information they needed to make a decision? Only those who read the Davies
article were allowed the complete story of 27 paragraphs.
If you got this from TV News, the story was even more gutted. Consider this
take from KGBT4 news, a source which claims to "Take Action For You."
WASHINGTON A former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman says he
knew more than a year in advance that American forces might be invading Iraq.
That's because he says the general running the war in Afghanistan told him
about the possible plan -- and how American resources were being shifted in
preparation for taking on Saddam Hussein.
Senator Bob Graham says he had the conversation with now-retired General Tommy
Franks back in February 2002. No comment so far from Franks.
The Iraq invasion began in March 2003 -- over the vigorous protests of several
Graham spoke today on N-B-C's "Meet the Press." He's retiring from his Senate
seat at the end of the year.
The Florida Democrat writes of his meeting with Franks in his new book, which
goes on sale Tuesday.
KGBT4 News attributes their source to the Associated Press. Notice how nothing
specific about the Saudi's is mentioned. Notice that nothing is made of the
way the CIA presented the doctored WMD threats to justify the rush to the war
on Iraq. This is typical TV news coverage. Most reporters do very little
investigation of their stories and present only a simplified version of what
source they choose. They could have used the more detailed Knight-Ridder
And you get the same exact TV News coverage (the same exact wording) in TV
networks all across the country, from Florida, to Texas, to California, to
Vermont, to Mississippi, to Wisconsin, to Kentucky,... in just about every
state. It's as if the words were piped from central corporate headquarters to
all of the TV branches. All of them with the same exact headline,"Senator says
commander told him of early drain of forces from Afghanistan for Iraq ."
And the whole meaning of the original story has changed. The Original story
mentions details about known Saudi financial links, mentions how the Bush
administration thwarted attempts to investigate these links, discusses how CIA
director George Tenet pumped up the Iraqi WMD threat, talks about diverting
resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, includes a discussion with Tommy Franks
that lasts 5 paragraphs, and talks about how Senator Graham was shocked when 27
pages of the details about Saudi financial links to the 9-11 terrorists were
removed by the Bush Administration. If all you did was watch TV news, you'd
get the impression that the story was about some Democratic ex-senator whining
about draining forces from Afghanistan for Iraq.
I did a count of all the stations with the same above headline. I counted 46.
I don't know about you, but that is scary.
Go see for yourself here.
|Sunday, 5 September 2004 at 13h 6m 50s|
Seattle Times cannot support Bush for president
Four years ago, this page endorsed George W. Bush for president. We cannot do
so again — because of an ill-conceived war and its aftermath, undisciplined
spending, a shrinkage of constitutional rights and an intrusive social agenda.
The Bush presidency is not what we had in mind. Our endorsement of John Kerry
is not without reservations, but he is head and shoulders above the incumbent.
The first issue is the war. When the Bush administration began beating the
drums for war on Iraq, this page said repeatedly that he had not justified it.
When war came, this page closed ranks, wanting to support our troops and give
the president the benefit of the doubt. The troops deserved it. In hindsight,
their commander in chief did not.
The first priority of a new president must be to end the military occupation of
Iraq. This will be no easy task, but Kerry is more likely to do it — and with
some understanding of Middle Eastern realities — than is Bush.
The election of Kerry would sweep away neoconservative war intellectuals who
drive policy at the White House and Pentagon. It would end the back-door draft
of American reservists and the use of American soldiers as imperial police. It
would also provide a chance to repair America's overseas relationships, both
with governments and people, particularly in the world of Islam.
A less-belligerent, more-intelligent foreign policy should cause less anger to
be directed at the United States. A political change should allow Americans to
examine the powers they have given the federal government under the Patriot
Act, and the powers the president has claimed by executive order.
This page had high hopes for President Bush regarding taxing and spending. We
endorsed his cut in income taxes, expecting that it would help business and
discipline new public spending. In the end, there was no discipline in it....
-- Seattle Times editorial on Friday, August 27, 2004
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